Friday favorites 5/20
A coffee date, dates as in dátiles, and eating spicy foods in a heat wave (recipe included if you’re brave enough)
TGIF!1 Another week is in the books, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. How is May almost over already? I feel like only yesterday I was complaining about the cold, and now there’s a warning for extreme heat this weekend. I haven’t even packed away my winter clothing for the year! Maybe I should get on that…
For those of you with your lives more together than me (who won’t be spending their time elbow-deep in sweaters), here are my favorites from the week.
I read once that we all have friends who fit specific roles in our lives. There’s the friend you call when you want to have a philosophical conversation about Hilaria Baldwin’s accent, the confidant who will never judge you for being too quejica2, and the sidekick who is always up for a night out. Here in Madrid one of my good friends fills a very specific hueco3 in my life: the coffee date friend.4 Whenever we get a chance, we meet up to try out a new coffee spot in the city. Our most recent choice? Bunny’s Deli, which had had a prize spot on our respective “Coffee Places to Try” Google Maps lists for quite some time. I opted for a vegan lemon blueberry scone (the entire menu is vegan, which is fantastic for someone like me with a milk protein allergy) and an americano. Scones are hard to get right, even when they’re not vegan and gluten free like this one, and I was impressed with both the flavor and texture. The americano was also a winner (Technically americanos, since I had two. Don’t judge; that scone was big and everyone knows you can’t be left with a last bite of scone and no coffee to accompany it!). I’ll definitely be back to try the savory selection in the future.
Even though I religiously followed healthy living blogs in the early 2010s, I somehow escaped trying dates until a couple of years ago5. I was immediately hooked, and now I always have a supply of the Medjool variety on hand. I mostly eat them plain as a small dessert or as a sweet finish to my morning coffee.6 Earlier in the fall I was trying to find out more about dates but didn’t discover much, so this week I was excited to stumble across The Ultimate Guide to Great Dates by Sophie Chou over at Five Things I Ate. I appreciate her inclusion of links to additional date intel (there’s one on 25 different types of dates, which is just what I had been looking for) as well as her suggestions for different date uses, such as date syrup in a latte.
Recently I’ve been craving warming foods like channa masala. I realize that it’s been over 30°C/90°F here all this week, but the heart (or in this case, my stomach) wants what it wants. My favorite Indian restaurant doesn’t deliver, so I tried out a new curry-based puréed soup instead.7 The recipe is adapted from the Crema de Cauliflor y Curry in Simply Biotiful by Chloé Sucrée. The premise of the book is healthy meals with six ingredients or less (not including pantry staples such as olive oil), and the crema8 definitely fits the bill. Below, I’ve typed out my version.
Curried Cauliflower Purée (translated and adapted from Simply Biotiful)
Yield: 4-6 servings
Equipment and supplies needed
Blender (we use a vintage Thermomix9 but a regular blender should be fine)
For the roasted vegetable base:
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 825g after removing stem and leaves)
1 medium sweet onion, cut into wedges
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
13g/1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
For the purée:
1 liter vegetable broth
13g/1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F, with convection on if you have it.
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the cauliflower florets, onion wedges, and garlic onto the the baking sheet.
Add the olive oil. I like to use an oil sprayer here to more evenly coat the veggies but it’s not necessary.10
Sprinkle the curry powder and turmeric on top, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Pop the pan in the oven for around 30 minutes, but be sure to monitor it so that the vegetables don’t burn. As always, this may take more or less time depending on your oven and if you’re using convection.
Once everything is looking toasty, take the baking sheet out and add approximately half of the vegetables to a blender along with half of the broth and blend until smooth.
Add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and blend again. Pour the mixture into a large bowl (or pot, if you’re planning on eating it right away) and set aside.
Repeat the previous two steps with the remaining vegetables, broth, and olive oil.
Add the resulting mixture to the first half and stir well to combine both batches of purée. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.
If you’re planning on eating the soup right away, you’ll likely want to heat it a bit on the stove as the vegetable broth will have cooled the roasted cauliflower. Otherwise, this purée is great for batch cooking and having on hand for the week, so you can pour it into your container(s) of choice and pop it into the fridge to reheat later.
As for serving, I’ve been eating the purée as-is with just a grind of pepper on top. The original recipe suggests saving some of the roast cauliflower before blending for garnish, but in my opinion this only works if you’re going to eat the soup right away, since otherwise the reserved cauliflower will lose that crisp texture. As an alternative, I think adding something like dukkah or roasted chickpeas could work for crunch and textural contrast. Let me know if you try it!
Some other odds and ends from the week:
After my curry craving, I tried to track down a bit of information about the custom of eating hot and/or spicy foods en pleno verano.11 This article about a chicken soup that’s common in Korea was a fun read and now I want to try samgyetang.
My cousin sent me this story about the monjas de clausura12 that sell cookies in the center of Madrid. We bought a slice of Tarta de Santiago from a similar group of nuns in Galicia last summer, but I’ve always had bad luck and caught the monjas in off-hours when I’ve swung by here in Madrid. Reading the article reminded me that I need to make another attempt!
For those of you in the US, pie expert Kate McDermott just re-opened in-person Art of the Pie Day Camps! I adore cooking classes (David and I took a bread-making class a couple of years ago and it was fantastic), so I’m jealous of anyone who lives close enough to Kate’s Pie Cottage in Port Angeles, WA to attend. For the rest of us, Kate also offers virtual workshops, or there’s her James Beard Foundation 2017 nominee Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life, which you can check out here along with her other books.
Have a great weekend, and if you’re in Madrid, stay safe in the heat! No one will judge you if you take a siesta in the hottest part of the day, I promise.
A por el finde!13
I tried looking up the Spanish equivalent to this, and all the websites I found told me that it’s Gracias a Dios es viernes!, which made me laugh because it’s so literal, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard anyone say that here.
This is not to say that she doesn’t bring a lot more to the friendship table! But she’s definitely the friend I call when I want to do some coffee tourism.
Peanut butter, the other star of HLBs of the time, was already (still?) a staple in my life. Although it would be a while before I traded in my beloved JIF for the natural kind that I usually eat now.
My dad always tells me that having to eat something sweet with your breakfast is a sign of being Southern.
This is clearly not Indian food or even close to it, but at least I get a similar warming quality, and it will have to do until I can convince a brave friend to eat chicken vindaloo in a heat wave with me.
Literally “cream,” here meaning a dense puréed soup
Like a Vitamix in that it’s a high-speed blender, but it also has a heating element. The newest versions basically cook for you; they tell you step by step what you have to add to the machine and out pops risotto or whatever other food your heart may desire. Our version is from the 1980s and we only use it to purée soups or make things like nut butter.
If you don’t spray the oil, you may want to give the vegetables a stir after adding it so that they’re more evenly coated.
In the heat of summer
Basically nuns that have taken a vow to never be seen by the rest of society. When you buy the cookies, you put your money on a revolving tray and the cookies will appear. See the linked article for an in-depth explanation!
Literally something like “Let’s tackle the weekend.” The closest equivalent I can think of is “time for the weekend,” but let me know if you can think of another!